Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Fri April 22 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | April 22, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    A Classic Downtown Los Angeles Itinerary

    A Classic Downtown Los Angeles Itinerary

    PHOTO: Grand Central Market. (photos by Rosalind Cummings-Yeates)

    For many visitors, Los Angeles is defined by Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Venice Beach, but the reality is that LA is actually a collection of these suburbs masquerading as a city. It’s only been recently that the downtown area of LA proper has been revitalized enough to lure hipsters and tourists alike into its historic streets. Even if your heart is buried in 90120, a journey into downtown LA will supply you with a totally different perspective of this eclectic city. Venture into the legendary environs of these Los Angeles hallmarks for a glimpse of classic LA:

    The Original Pantry Cafe

    Start the day in this legendary diner, which has been an LA staple since 1924. The Original Pantry Cafe is an old school greasy diner complete with big, artery-clogging portions and a cash only policy. Open 24 hours, the Pantry has hosted everyone from Clark Gable to Marilyn Monroe. The menus are on the wall and the pancakes are famous for melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Expect lines outside the door whatever time you go.

    READ MORE: Los Angeles Sets New Tourism Record with 45.5 Million Visitors

    Grand Central Market

    Much of the small business action in downtown LA takes place at the bustling Grand Central Market. A cornerstone of the area since 1917, the indoor arena focuses on local cuisines and cultures, serving up spices, handmade soaps, jewelry, cocktail accouterments, cheese, baked goods and everything in between. Roam the aisles and you’ll be enchanted by the colors, smells and assortment of goods. The market is also a trendy spot for gourmet eateries, especially the popular Egg Slut, which serves variations of egg sandwiches atop warm brioche buns to devoted fans who line the halls.

    The Grammy Museum

    PHOTO: The Supremes exhibit at the Grammy Museum.

    The recording industry forms an integral part of LA’s fabled show business history and there’s no better place to dig into that legacy than at the Grammy Museum. Much more than a repository of music awards (although the evolution of the Grammy statues is a fascinating display on its own), the museum is an interactive showcase of four floors of permanent and traveling exhibits. An audiovisual timeline reveals the last 50 years of musical impact and there are pods lined with musical artifacts, including several of Michael Jackson’s sparkly gloves. Bob Dylan photos, rare guitars including Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster, a retrospective on The Supremes and Otis Redding and a showcase of George Carlin’s comedy albums are just some of the current exhibits. It requires hours to just grab a general overview of the space so expect to spend a half a day at the museum.


    It’s not easy to get a handle on this multi-level restaurant and bar that fittingly displays the sign, “Cabinet of Curiosities” over the door. Clifton’s is a historic restaurant that debuted in 1932 and was recently renovated to boast five bars, a five-story Redwood tree sprouting through the middle of the space, enough taxidermy to make every member of “Duck Dynasty” proud and, oh yeah, cafeteria style food. During my recent visit, the freaky decor (stuffed peacocks, a Grizzly bear and chairs made from horns and tusks) proved much more interesting than the food or cocktails but it’s worth a visit just for the history. Jack Kerouac, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov all hung out at Clifton’s.

    READ MORE: Airlines Battling for Supremacy in Los Angeles

    Golden Gopher

    Top off your day exploring classic LA with a stop by Golden Gopher, one of the city’s oldest bars. Filled with chandeliers, golden gopher statues and old school video games, Golden Gopher serves up as much charm as it does history. Purchased in 1905 by president Teddy Roosevelt, the bar is one of LA’s oldest and one of the only watering holes that sell packaged liquor to go. Open every day of the year and supplying 16 craft beers as well as spirits, Golden Gopher is an iconic spot that personifies old LA.


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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